How to Make It
I Am Many Moods
Martino Gamper’s lyrical hooks make a statement at New York’s Anton Kern Gallery
As enthusiastic followers of his career for the better part of the 21st century, we’ve gotten the distinct impression that Martino Gamper takes much more pleasure in making things than talking about making things. Lucky for us, the Merano-born, London-based designer’s prolific and idiosyncratic hands-on production—often entailing marathon sessions of re-working found and unexpected materials—speaks for itself, championing both experimental and traditional expressions of craftsmanship while also critiquing the design industry’s problematic relationship with consumerism, waste, marketing, and luxury.
By making things in his own thoughtful yet bodily way, Gamper has made an immense contribution to contemporary design discourse—a fact most recently recognized by King Charles III, who named Gamper an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) earlier this month.
The provocative narratives arising from Gamper’s practice have allowed him to crisscross rather seamlessly between the worlds of art and design, and his latest body of work can be found installed across two floors of Anton Kern Gallery in New York. The show, titled I Am Many Moods, features an astonishing 700 wall hooks and vases presented alongside unconventional furniture vignettes, each unique form sculpted in a wide array of materials, colors, and sizes.
According to Kern, “Each hook has a beautiful story—one, for example, was cast with Karl Frisch in a traditional Japanese silver alloy called Shibuichi.” Among other highlights, Kern mentions the stack of tables on the first floor, which creates “a very special viewing experience” from both groundlevel and the second floor, and other surprises. “We love the fun and practicality of using invisible ink to help identify each piece—there are some hidden messages and little jokes scattered throughout the show.”
When asked how the gallery frames Gamper’s work to its largely art-centric audience, Kern explains: “We feel that Martino’s approach to making work—and in particular his conceptual rigor—align very well with what we do. This installation plays with the space and the objects, and the attention to detail and variety make the exhibition more than just one of functional objects. As the press release notes, there is a hook for everyone. Color, material, and Martino’s playfulness are all on full display.”
Though admittedly a man of few words, the always amiable Gamper kindly sat down with us to talk about the new show and what he’s working on next…
Tell us about the title of the show? The gallery’s press materials mention that recently you’ve been “in a very good mood.” What’s driving your mood lately?
My mood has been to create new objects. When I’m making new work, the mood changes—the energy flows and new ideas form. With this project I just couldn’t stop. In the end, it’s almost 900 pieces in the show.
What drew you to hook and vase forms? What was it like to iterate on these forms in so many ways?
I like objects that have a double function. Between the functional and the decorative, a hook can just be on a wall and seen as an adornment. The hook needs the wall, and the wall needs its hooks. Same with the vase; they work with and without flowers.
Design shows often focus on one or two materials at a time. What are some of the materials found in I Am Many Moods, and what was it like to work with so many materials at once to create this collection?
The overarching idea for the show was to experiment with as many different materials, processes, and collaborators as possible—a sort of tryout for any material or craft that came to mind.
Materials include wood, metal, glass, steel, plastic, diamonds, ceramics, bronze, aluminum, brass, stainless glass, tubes, rebar, stones, and branches.
Processes include casting, shaving, carving, sawing, sanding, 3D printing, extruding, chainsawing, glass blowing, welding, forging, flame cutting, waterjet cutting, laser cutting, screwing, drilling, torching, and tearing.
And the surface treatments are polished, sanded, painted, anodized, powder coated, plated, enameled, sprayed, sandblasted, heated, and vibrated.
How do you think about your work in relation to art?
The line between fine art and applied art is very blurry. For me, it’s in the eye of the beholder. You can look at it, or you use it. There are two ways of experiencing an object.
What other projects do you have on the horizon?
I’m working on a new project at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, opening in July. I’m taking over the main gallery space (Mittelhalle) for 8 months, creating seating and sitting experiences for the public to interact with. ◆
Martino Gamper: I Am Many Moods is on view at Anton Kern in New York through August 11th.
Martino Gamper: Sitzung will be on view at Haus der Kunst in Munich from July 28th through March 2024.